Although Women’s History Month may be behind us, the celebration of great female heroines continues year round, through the shows we watch, movies we see, and the festivals taking place world wide right now. It may sound ridiculous, to some, to place such importance on popular culture, but there truly are valuable lessons to learn from the entertainment we consume. There are many ladies in Film and TV who I believe have contributed a great deal to society, by helping to advance equality at home and in the workplace. To me, they are important for what they represent, in their ability to not only inspire and empower, but also, to demonstrate just how diverse the world is and to provide insight and understanding on different viewpoints. They are people to look up to. They are a reflection of ourselves. And they can be role models.
Some of the women who have resonated with me over the years are Laura Holt, from Remington Steele, a strong, bright, career woman, whose number 1 goal was proving herself an apt detective in a man’s world. Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, due to her strength, intelligence, and determination to be who she was, despite pressure from a disapproving town. And, Angela Bower, from Who’s The Boss?, portrayed by the wonderful, Judith Light. Some people might dismiss the sitcom as fluff and lacking any significant value, but if you really take a careful look, the series was very important for the impact it had on society. One of the main reasons I love Angela – and the show – is not only the obvious, will they or won’t they TV trope, but the very premise of the series as well, which turned gender roles upside down and fought against stereotypes.
Here you have Angela, a smart, driven, career woman, and mother of one, who is separated from her husband, as he was more comfortable with a wife who stayed home, while he brought home the bacon. But that wasn’t gonna cut it for someone like Angela, so they each pursued their own dreams. He with his love of adventure and she with her love of Advertising. But with both parents now away from the home, who’s left to mind their young young son, Jonathan? Enter, Tony Micelli, widower, and former major league baseball player, whose career was cut short due to an injury, leaving him to find a new way to provide for himself and his young daughter, Samantha. In his search to give his child a better life, he leaves Brooklyn and moves to a suburb in Connecticut, to keep house (and act as stay-at-home parent) for none other than, Angela Bower, and her little boy.
It amazes me that this concept, at least when depicted on tv, was embraced 30 years ago, yet today, we encounter people with the mindset that women are the only ones capable of being the nurturing caregivers and men are only equipped to go to work and make money. Come on people, do we really believe that? What message does that send to single fathers? Are we not making the assumption that they will fail? Shouldn’t we leave these roles up to whatever works best for the individual or for the couple? If we don’t, aren’t we selling each gender short if we put limits on what they can do? That’s one of the contributing factors, in my view, as to why a recent political figure came under fire for comments that implied that women were the only ones that should be given flexibility at work, because they needed to be home by 5pm to cook dinner for the family. Talk about alienating a large group of people! In my opinion, a much more effective approach would have been to have said, I believe work/life balance is important and I strive to enforce that practice in the workplace because I understand that everyone has commitments outside of what they do for a living. Keep gender out of it.
Anyway, I digress. Back to Who’s the Boss? Tony Danza has said, the series “was a breakthrough TV show, depicting the woman as the type A personality, the posh breadwinner of the household, who hired a male housekeeper.” And Judith told the LA Times, the show “was very important, very cutting edge for the ’80s. These were people who were not stereotypes. She was successful and he was not afraid to be in the home.”
The moral of this story is don’t let someone dictate what you should be in life. Everyone has a different purpose. Your gender does not define you. Don’t feel pressured to be someone you’re not. Don’t fall prey to preconceived notions of what it means to be a man or a woman. We are all people with the potential to be just what we’re meant to be. Live the life you’re supposed to live. You only have one.